studio_keyboardMost Asia-based voice talents record in a commercial studio, and someone has to organize the session. The studio, the production house, the agency or the client itself. Often, how a client chooses a voice involves short-listing. What most voices don’t get is this is not the time to ‘negotiate.’ Here’s how the process typically goes:

Agency: Hi – we’ve got a project that requires a  [young/mature], [male/female] voice with characteristics [A, B & C]. I need to submit them to the client to choose one; I had a look at your website, and we like VO1 and VO2, can you throw in a few more and give me a quote? The details of the script and usage are [duration, usage, loading].

VOA: Sure, gimme an hour, and I’ll get back to you.

Right away, we have a good idea what the rate will be. Still, we message VO1 and VO2 and confirm their availability and pricing. We’ll figure out who would qualify to be the extras. Suppose we find a VO3, VO4 & VO5. We check their availability and pricing, too.

When we message a voice for their rate, we hate to get a reply back of “my rate is $X but negotiable” – it’s incredibly unhelpful. Why? Because we send a quote to the client and include the rate we got from a talent, and this is the next part of the conversation:

VOA: I’ve just emailed you a quote – we’ve included links for samples and their rates.

Agency: Yup, had a look at your email; wow, VO2 is so much more compared to the rest, as is VO4. Let’s dump those two from the list; I’ll just submit three voices to the client. Thanks!

VOA: Cool, let us know who your client chooses.

See what just happened?

When a production company/agency/client approaches us to shortlist voices for a project, they want to hear voices, see a price, and decide. They don’t haggle with a talent. Voicing comes at the end of any production, and by this point, no-one has an appetite for back-and-forth. Except perhaps the voice talent.

So two takeaways from this.

  1. If a project is genuinely complicated (loading, multiple durations, bulk recording, etc.) then we’ll get rates from each talent. Sometimes we will haggle among the shortlisted voices BEFORE submitting a quote, so everyone has a fair shot at getting the gig. Anyone asking for significantly more than everyone else, we discard before we submit.
  2. For simpler projects, where a market rate would apply, we tell the voice talents it’s a take-it-or-leave-it scenario on the rate. We always try to pay voice talents a good price and be fair, but like clients, we can’t burn time messaging a talent back and forth to get them to the actual price they’re willing to accept as a fair fee.

One final thought – sometimes I have a client who DOESN’T have the market rate for a recording but can adjust their expectations regarding which voice they would get: not be for ads, but corporate / e-learning type work.  Such a client says they have $X, which we know that’s 10/20/30% off the market rate, but will bring payment to the session. Trying to match a paying gig with a voice talent willing to accept a discount cos they have a quiet spell seems like a win-win for everyone. FYI, we would similarly take less, too. Our trade off might be scheduling it in quiet time: either during lunch (who likes a 1 pm call time?), after hours, or even the weekend. As our accountant says, it doesn’t matter how it got into the income column, at the end of the year, every dollar looks like every other dollar.